Defining Influence with 3 Key Questions

Dalai Lama at Buffalo faculty dialogue
I see how many people try to measure the influence of themselves and other individuals. Online their are various tools which measure influence. I have tried many with the purpose of understanding how they measure influence.

The problem with many of these tools measuring influence with numbers, re-tweets, twitter follows, blog subscriptions, and many others. I do understand and believe this will give you a general idea but the biggest problem with Influence is that it is tied to too many factors.

So in reality there is no right, wrong, or precise way to measure it. So I will try to define influence with a few factors.

1. How do you benefit from Influence?

By having the ability to influence the people around you we can move things forward without pushing, forcing, or telling others what to do. When I was in the military I interacted with many people who thought that just by having a rank they where influential. In reality the most influential people where the one’s what where examples to follow. Those eventually scaled up in rank quicker or decided to leave the military to a structure where influence would be more valuable than having a position of authority.

2. How  does Influence  affect the workplace?

In any work environment having influence will make your job easier. When you gain support from peers, managers, or subordinates you are able to accomplish a lot more. I have see how influence creates tighter relationships at all levels of many organizations. I have heard on many occasions how people will execute faster and enjoy their job a lot more when they have a figure of authority or team member that influences them.

3. How to Influence People?

When people see that you really care that usually is the start in influencing people. I think that by not caring many people who could influence others very easily end up not having that ability. There are certain general skills that should be part of your ability to influence:

  • Interpersonal
  • Communication
  • Presentation

Don’ts on achieving influence

If you want to influence you need to persuade, care, and build your community. What you don’t want to do is to push or bully people into what you think is right. If you push someone to do something against their will or when they have no interest your community and influence deteriorate greatly. Online I have seen grown people from Lawyers to Public Relations professionals bullying people into accepting what they think is right. Those people don’t realize that they lose credibility and their ability to influence.

How do I approach Influence?

In reality I don’t think about influencing people I just do what I think is right. I focus on helping people and connecting with those people who have similar interests. I might not have much influence but if I can help just one person with  my actions it is well worth it.

How do you define influence?

Do you focus on gaining influence?

What other skills or qualities do you see in highly influential people?

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